Definition of terpene in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtərpēn/


Any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees. They are based on a cyclic molecule having the formula C10H16.
Example sentences
  • Lactones, phenolic aldehydes (such as vanillin), terpenes (essential oils) and wood tannins are all by-products of oak, so it is understandable that too much can rob a white wine of its fruit and delicacy.
  • In woody plants, carbon-based chemical compounds such as phenolics and terpenes comprise the main chemical defence.
  • Essential oils contain many terpenes, which are rapidly absorbed through the lungs and cross the blood-brain barrier.


Late 19th century: from German Terpentin 'turpentine' + -ene.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ter·pene

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